The Oregon Coast was a gift.
I had signed up for the Oregon Coast 50km back in April (race sold out in 36 hours), and figured it would be a good Thanksgiving getaway. It wasn’t hard to convince J. He remembered the previous Rainshadow race I had run and more specifically the pizza at the finish line :D. We took an extra day on either end of the long weekend to make it a vacation. September had been a crazy month for both of us and we were looking forward to this trip.
We left Vancouver early Friday morning (before 7 am at J’s insistence) and the weather was miserable: rain, wind, fog non – stop. At the border, border patrol asked where we were going and why. Um, to run 50 km. Excuse me? (border patrol’s exact words) So I repeated myself :D. It rained pretty much all the way to our destination. I was a bit worried as running in such conditions would not be fun.
8.5 hours of driving (J. was happy to do all the driving) later, we reached Yachats. Yachats is a beautiful little coastal town in the Central Oregon Coast and it took me all of 10 minutes to fall in love. Our room at the inn faced the ocean, and every night we fell asleep to the sound of the waves and woke up to the same. Need I say more?
This race was a bit of an afterthought in that I had done exactly 2 long runs since Squamish 50 in late August (one of which was Sky Pilot) in September. I had, however, run faithfully on the weekdays. I had very low expectations and hoped I would finish. Dutifully, I laid out my pre – race gear and drop bag (including a second pair of trail runners). We had picked up groceries so we had dinner and drinks at the inn.
Saturday morning J. dropped me off at the Adobe resort (2 minutes away) told him the cut off time, and I did bag check, bib pickup and two bathroom breaks. We were bused to our start line some 7 miles south to the town of Waldport. 7 miles of beach running awaited and oh my, the ocean was beautiful. Runners milled at the start and with no fanfare, James the race director shouted, go! The most anticlimactic race start ever. I met some interesting people, including a lady who ran barefoot the entire way, and a guy who had never run more than 15 miles and started the race with no water, no food, hiking boots and khaki shorts.
I trotted along the beach being careful to go slow. I hadn’t really done any beach running, but luckily the sand was relatively firm. Rolling waves, and fog and mist shrouded the skies. I had to pause and take a couple of photos. Yes, I know this was a race. Somewhere along the beach (right after I jumped into a huge puddle of water) photographer extraordinaire Glenn Tachiyama was waiting to capture the moment.
7 miles of beach later, we were on gravel road. My legs were a bit tired from running on the beach but a quick stop at our first aid station, fuel, and change of socks and shoes (we got wet on the beach) and I was off and running. Nothing some flat road couldn’t cure.
I made some new running buddies, including a girl from Denver running her first ultra and a research scientist running her first, and I had company all the way to the 14 mile aid station. We climbed through some of the most stunning trails I have ever seen. Soft single track, and carpets of moss. The trails were surprisingly runnable and I felt as though I was running through a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Cape Perpetua was breathtaking. I could see the highway, and ocean stretching out below us.Naturally, I stopped for a photo – op. Then I chased a couple of runners down the trails, all the way to the 14 mile aid station. Watermelon, coke, m&m’s and salt pills.
It was somewhere after leaving the 14 mile aid station (which also doubled as the 24 mile aid station) that I rolled my ankle, badly. My foot just slipped out from underneath me and I landed on my butt. A passing runner offered his help. I thanked him and told him I would walk it off. I pulled myself to my feet and began limping along. I decided I would seek help at the next aid station (I didn’t know there was an aid station at mile 19.5) and thought I had 10 miles to go. Well, by the time I hit mile 19.5 my ankle was no longer hurting, so I kept going. After fueling, I felt a lot better and began picking up the pace, completely disregarding the fact I had rolled my ankle. I was careful on the downhills but in the last stretch I felt pretty good so picked up the pace.
J. was waiting outside our inn (we ran past at mile 8 ish and again at mile 27ish – guessing h) so that was a super nice surprise. He took a video of me the first time round and the second time offered me coffee (spiked) of course. Bless his soul. I told him maybe half an hour to the finish. I walked, trotted, and tried to run, and I could smell the finish line. Soon, I could hear it. I was on the tail of another runner crossing the finish line. And then I was done. Maybe I will go back and see if I can run it faster next year.
I promptly sat down, and pulled off my trail runners and my left ankle was the size of a baseball. Oops. A volunteer came to ask me if I wanted anything to drink. Such service The volunteers at trail races are the best!
J came to pick me up and we enjoyed wood even pizza and several beers, staying long enough to cheer in the last runners before heading back. The Oregon Coast 50km is a fun low key race (not technical and super runnable) and was the icing on a beautiful Oregon Coast trip.
*Post script – we spent another night in Yachats, and explored Florence, visited the Seal caves (only to be told the seals were hibernating – oh well). The views along highway 101 are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Miles of white beaches, rugged coast lines. I wanted to stop at every view-point.
Monday we left Yachats, and headed north, taking the scenic route, driving through Waldport, through Tillamook, stopping at Devil’s Punch, Rockaway Beach, and spending the night in Cannon beach in a quaint little one bedroom suite with the fire place with the ocean yards away. We were treated to a brilliant sunset and sunrise in Cannon beach before we left. As I write this, I can still hear and smell the ocean (yes I know we have plenty of beaches here, but it’s not the same). I miss the Oregon coast already. We’ll be back.